The Flyers got their offense back Sunday night. It was back and then some.
After going scoreless in two of their last three games, the Flyers were in take no prisoners mode against the Sabres in a 5-2 victory to help them get closer to clinching a playoff berth. It also ended an ugly four-game losing streak and gave the squad sole possession of third in the Metropolitan Division, two points behind the Rangers with a game in hand.
By the time Brayden Schenn (from Wayne Simmonds) netted his second goal on a breakaway with just 4:50 left in the third period, the game was already in hand. But the extra offense didn’t hurt, and the Flyers shot margin was impressive at 37-19.
“We played a solid team game tonight,” Schenn said, giving his teammates their due credit for a sound defensive attack. “It’s a defense first mentality, we didn’t give them a whole lot and two points is key.”
Matt Read got things going with a goal finding nylon on an wide open net midway through the first, scoring on a wrister after a Mark Streit slap shot to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead. The first frame looked like it might be ugly after sluggish play dogged the team for the first 10 minutes, but when all was said and done, Philadelphia led and had a 14-5 shot advantage after the first 20 minutes.
“We stuck to the game plan early,” Schenn said, “and as soon as Reader got that goal it gives the team a little boost. We stuck to team defense especially in the first two periods and it helped a lot.”
The next Flyers goal came, fittingly, from Zac Rinaldo, who has been playing well of late on the third line. Read and Streit got their second points apiece assisting Rinaldo on the strike to put the Flyers up 2-0 with 12 minutes left in the second period.
“I thought right away in the game that we were sharp,” Flyers coach Craig Breube said. “We had a game plan and we followed it.”
And the commanding lead kept getting wider, with Brayden Schenn using his skate to redirect a shot by Streit after a pass from Vincent Lecavalier to put the Flyers up 3-0. Just a few minutes later the offensive onslaught continued with Lecavalier (from Jakub Voracek and Steve Mason) posting a goal to close out the second 4-0 Flyers. The club was outshooting the Sabres 29-11 by that point.
“We just played the first two periods really well,” Read said, “really good defense and it led to a offense for us. A couple breaks and bounces it went well for us.”
In the third, a five-minute major committed by Rinaldo led to the Sabres getting on the board eight minutes into the third when Cody Hodgson found the back of the net to cut the lead to 4-1. And with just over two minutes left Buffalo scored again, Mike Weber beating Mason to make it 5-2.
Most importantly, no matter what the score was the Flyers finished Sunday with a win, and keep pace in the competitive playoff picture with a trip to Florida looming.